Health Sciences Research and Enterprise - Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology Research Group

​The Forensic Psychology  Research Group (FPRG) aims to conduct internationally-recognised research and to provide high quality training to Forensic practitioners in applied settings. The group has strong links with national and local providers of services for offenders in both the public and private sectors. Our research is developing in parallel with our expanding portfolio of professionally accredited postgraduate taught programmes and research/practice supervision. The FPRG conducts research in a range of areas that are relevant to our understanding of causal factors for crime and has close links to the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice and the Offender Health Research Network for Wales. Our focus is on serious interpersonal offending and on services/interventions for violent and sexual offenders.


Research Areas


Forensic Psychology COVAID

COVAID is an intervention that has been designed to reduce the risk of violence in men who have a history of violent,

angry, impulsive drinking. The intervention is designed to be delivered either in prison or in the community by the Probation Service.

COVAID was evaluated in the first randomised control trial undertaken in the UK prison service and yielded significant short-term reductions in violent and non-violent offending in the treated group. COVAID was recently re-accredited as a recognised intervention by the UK Ministry of Justice, and work to further refine and evaluate COVAID is planned. 

Attachment styles in secure Psychiatry

Patients in forensic psychiatric services are detained and treated because they suffer from mental disorder and have committed a serious offence(s), or, are considered to be at high risk of committing serious offences. Many patients in this environment have abnormal styles of interpersonal attachment and have difficulty forming therapeutic relationships. These Forensic Psychology attachment stylepatients consequently struggle to benefit from treatments designed to help them.

Projects have focused on the relationships between attachment style and patient violence, aggressiveness, uncooperativeness and self-harm. We have also found that staff have limited understanding of attachment theory despite its direct relevance to their work. We are in the process of evaluating an educational intervention for staff designed to improve their understanding of why patients with attachment difficulties behave in the way they do.


Intimate relationships and prisoners

Forensic Psychology intimate relationships prisoners

The risk of reoffending in men is reduced when they are in a stable intimate relationship, but little is understood about their partners' experiences of these "crime-reducing" relationships. Dr Karen De Claire is engaged in this pioneering work with offenders and their partners.


Group Members

Dr Andrew Watt, Group Lead and Reader in Applied Psychology

Dr Nicola Bowes, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology 

Dr Karen De Claire, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology

Dr Daniel Stubbings, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology

Libby Payne, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology

Leanne Watson, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology


Key Publications 

Bowes N., McMurran M., Evans C., Oatley G., Williams B., David S. Treating alcohol-related violence: a feasibility study of a randomized controlled trial in prisons. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology. 2014 Mar; 25 (2): 152-63.

Bowes N., McMurran M. Cognitions supportive of violence and violent behaviour. Aggression and Violent Behaviour. 2013 Dec; 18 (6): 660-5.

Boniwell N,, Etheridge L., Bagshaw R., Sullivan J., Watt A. Mental health nurses’ perceptions of attachment style as a construct in medium secure hospital: A thematic analysis. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice. 2015; 10 (4): 218-33.

Stubbings DR., Rees CS., Roberts LD. New Avenues to Facilitate Engagement in Psychotherapy: The Use of Videoconferencing and Text-Chat in a Severe Case of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder. Australian Psychologist. 2015 Aug; 50 (4): 265-70.